Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

A couple of years ago, my sis-in-law, Tiffany, recommend this book by Sacks and it sounded so intriguing that I wanted to get my hands on it. I finally finished it the other day and I'm so glad I read it.

This took me a long time to get through but it's still worth it. It's his philosophy of why there is religious violence and how to combat it. In the end, the main gist of what I got was, put yourself in someone's else shoe. Don't look to your past of how you were treated and make avenge. Rather, use the past experiences as a way to say "we can't let that happen again." He referred to Jews he met who were survivors of the concentration camp. They were ones to easily put their past behind them and say "never again."

"Jewish law forbids human beings from bearing a grudge or taking vengeance: 'You shall blog [any offenses against you] our of your mind and not bear a grudge. For as long as one nurses a grievance and keeps it in mind, one may come to take vengeance. The Torah therefore emphatically warns us not to bear a grudge, so that the impression of the wrong should be completely obliterated and no longer remembered. This is the right principle. It alone makes civilized life and social interaction possible. ' This is the corollary of belief in divine justice. If vengeance belongs to God, it does not belong to us." pg. 246

I was just thinking about the call to help refugees in "I was a stranger" initiative that the LDS church has put on. Dating back to our history, we should know what it means like to be a stranger and a refugee because of the pioneers. We don't want to seek revenge on those who have hurt us in the past but rather realize we can't do this to anyone else.

All of his philosophy was in the backdrop of Biblical narratives like Abraham, sibling rivalry with Esau and Jacob, role reversal, the covenant people, etc. I could see this book being part of a college class. It was so deep. In my mind, Sacks is a genius.

Because I have to take the book to the library today, I thought I would write down passages from the book as a way of reminding myself what I liked. 

"Violence has nothing to do with religion as such. It has to do with identity and life in groups. Religion sustains groups more effectively than any other force." pg. 39 A world without identities will be a world without war.

"The last chapter argued that violence is born of the need for identity and the formation of groups. These lead to conflict and war. But war is normal. Altruistic evil is not normal. Suicide bombings, the targeting of civilians and the murder of schoolchildren are not normal. Violence may be possible wherever this is an Us and a Them. But radical violence emerges only when we see the Us as all-good and the Them as all-evil, heralding a war between the children of light and the forces of darkness. That is when altruistic evil is born." pg. 48

"Pathological dualism does three things. It makes you dehumanize and demonize your enemies. It leads you to see yourself as a victim. And it allows you to commit altruistic evil, killing in the name of the God of life, hating in the name of the God of love and practicing cruelty in the name of the God of compassion." pg. 54

"Defining yourself as a victim is a denial of what makes you human. We see ourselves as objects, not subjects. We become done-to, not doers; passive, not active. Blame bars the path to responsibility...blame cultures perpetuate every condition against which they are a protest." pg. 61 

"When dehumanization and demonization are combined with a sense of victimhood, the third stage comes possible: the commission of evil in an altruistic cause." pg.61-62 (Think Nazi's for example).

Idea of scapegoat: "is both all-powerful and powerless. If the scapegoat were actually powerful, it could no longer fulfill its essential function as the-victim-of-violence-without-risk-of-reprisal...but if the scapegoat were believed to be powerless, it could not plausibly be cast as the cause of our present troubles...for a thousand years the scapegoat of choice in Europe and the Middle East has been the Jews. They were the most conspicuous outsiders: non-Christians in a Christian Europe, non-Muslims in an Islamic Middle East...Jews are its victims but they are not its cause. The cause is conflict within culture." pg. 76

Sibling rivalry: "It is now clear why Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have been locked in a violent, sometimes fatal embrace for so long. Their relationship is sibling rivalry, fraught with mimetic desire: the desire for the same thing, Abraham's promise." pg. 98

"The way we learn not to commit evil is to experience an event from the perspective of the victim." pg. 158

"Dividing the world into saints and sinners, the saved and the damned, the children of God and the children of the devil, is the first step down the road to violence in the name of God." pg. 169

"God does not prove his love for some by hating others. Neither, if we follow him, may we." pg. 173

"To be cured of potential violence towards the Other, I must be able to imagine myself as the Other." pg. 179

"What is difficult is loving the stranger. We are genetically disposed to defensive-aggressive conduct when faced with someone not like us, outside the group, not bound by its code of mutual identity and reciprocity. The stranger is always potentially a threat." pg. 181

"To one who has a hammer, said Abraham Maslow, every problem looks like a nail. Politics is about power, but not every political problem has a solution that involves power. Failure to see this can cost a civilization dear. It almost cost Judaism its life." pg. 220

"It makes space for difference. It recognizes that within a complex society there are many divergent views, traditions and moral systems...All it seeks to do is ensure that those who have differing views are able to live peaceably and graciously together, recognizing that none of us has the right to impose our views on others." pg. 230

"Religion is at its best when it relies on strength of argument and example. It is at its worst when it seeks to impose truth by force." pg. 234

Really, this book is packed with so many insights and I could have written down more. Highly recommend taking time to read this book. You'll gain a lot from it. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sharing the Good

Some tidbits that I've loved lately...

I share an account with my mom and sister with Deseret bookshelf which has tons of great audiobooks, ebooks, and talks for a good price each month (especially when you split the cost with two other people). Lately Austin and I have been listening to Hank Smith or Sheri Dew talks while we get ready for the day. They are both equally hilarious and inspiring. It's bringing back a lot of good memories of me and my sister Emily driving the Mazda in high school and having two Sheri Dew talks on repeat.

Since my friend Melanie moved to Florida, I've been on the lookout for a new piano teacher. I had the though to email a lady in the stake and she had one spot left. It turned out great and I just went with it. My first lesson was today and first, the area in her house where we have lessons is beautiful. She has this nice baby grand where the side of it is up against these windows that have sheer curtains and the sun just comes in the house real nice. It's like, how can you not play beautiful music here? 

I applied for a piano teaching position at this academy here (sounds more official than I think it is). Haven't heard back but being at my piano lesson today just sparked in me that I can totally do this. I've been really worried that me being out of the music scene for almost 10 years would put me behind in a lot of ways. Learning music is like learning a language (especially when it comes to theory) and so I really need to brush up on it. It's one thing to know it but then to teach it is a whole other game, especially when it's young kids. I've been finding these great resources though and it's given me confidence that I can do this. And motivates me to build up my studio in time. 

Even though we don't have a piano right now, I'm so glad we live close to campus where there is a whole building dedicated to practice rooms. I just back my little backpack, head on the trail to campus, and listen to a good audiobook on the way. Right now I'm listening to "A Greater Journey" by David McCullough. Really interesting. 

For the love of Kale: I think I have this deep inner desire to be hippie, or at least I tell myself that because we still don't own a microwave. #sorryBubs But this summer I've been like 'give me all the kale'! I'm so bizarre but my lunch is just pile high of kale, hummus, salsa, candied jalapeƱos, rice, and chips. It's so good. 

Institute-Ever since winter 2012, when I met Austin, I have always taken an institute class (minus that one summer in Pocatello) but that's almost 6 years and I still have not technically 'graduated' from Institute. #facepalm But I really just go because I love learning and I love the gospel so I'll take any chance I get. I'm especially excited about this semesters class. 

We have a new institute director (who knows Dani and Nic and apparently is a big Ute fan so I'll be sure to wear my BYU shirt any chance I get) but he is a phenomenal teacher! Our first lesson was just packed with good stuff. We're studying the first half of the Book of Mormon. We looked at the title page and it talks about how the Book of Mormon is to convince us that Jesus is the Christ. We could have spent all class just giving such scriptural examples. Then we read in 1 Nephi 1 about tender mercies and if the beginning and the ending of the Book of Mormon is evidence of God's tender mercies, then we need to find them in the scriptures. I never looked at it that way before but just between the first and fifth chapters there were so many. It's opened my eyes to a new way of studying. 

Looking for a good movie? Austin and I loved "A United Kingdom". The description from imdb: The story of King Seretse Khama of Botswana and how his loving but controversial marriage to a British white woman, Ruth Williams, put his kingdom into political and diplomatic turmoil.

Looking for a good laugh? You need to watch Kellen Erskine's dry bar comedy routine on VidAngel. You don't need a membership (I think you do need to sign up) but it's free on there. It's only 40 minutes long. I think I've seen it 4 times and I laugh hard every time! 

What good things have you found recently? 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Tidbit Lessons Learned Last Week

This last week has been an interesting one since we've been without a car and internet. We do have quite of bit of data rolled over from previous months so that's helped but overall it means that I need to come to campus and pound out all that I need to do on my laptop and download all the podcasts I want to listen to that day or for the week. It's been funny to notice that I actually have been getting blog posts out quicker than normal because it seems like I have a deadline to get to. 

All in all, it has been an eye opener to me that when I do have internet at my fingertips, I probably don't use it as wisely. I see it as I'll get around to blogging later because I can do it whenever so I'll do something else on the internet which probably wasn't that useful (like I just pull up Twitter on here...). Anyway, even though I do have data and I'm still connected in some ways, I've tried to delete the Instagram account on my phone as soon as I'm done looking at things while I'm on campus. I realized that with or without data, when it was accessible, it was a huge time sucker. Because I was looking at pretty pictures like from restoring photography Instagram. I want to be able to buy some of her photos. They are just so pretty. 

On that little note about Instagram...I did make a bookish account. Is that totally cheesy to do? Oh well, just did. I'm not very creative in cute pictures. I kind of always thought covers can do it justice but I appreciate those who do make pretty pictures. It's called juliasbookbench. Picture above is what got me thinking about the title. The reason I did it is I thought it'll be a fun and creative outlet for something that I love and connecting with people who like it too. And it might also be a great ploy to get more recommendations. :) 

And then on other side notes because of less internet and transportation, I have been flying through books like crazy. I don't normally finish 4 books in a week but that's what happened. I'm cocking it up in my head that I read faster because I'm in a new apartment and the setting is just making my mind read faster. ;) I don't know how long that excuse will last but I will take it because there are so many books on TBR. And it doesn't help that I started Gone With The Wind and it's about 1,037 pages. Yowzers. 

Things I have been listening to this last week from Bold New Mom that I really enjoyed:

Have a great week!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Doutre Family Reunion

The Doutre family reunions can be summed up in hashtags, movie quotes, and YouTube videos. They are so fun to be around. We didn't venture out many places this reunion but we were all content to hang out and chat and do water fights in the backyard and play lots of Kubb (it's this fun lawn game that I'm now wanting).

On Monday we went to Eagle Mountain so we can take back this handcart that ended up at Nic and Dani's house (long story). Perfect day to do it since it was Pioneer Day. We got a lot of laughs and people videoing us in the neighborhood. Then our service project was cleaning up the stake center grounds. They've gotten a lot of junk from the construction across the street.

Then we had a water fight that evening and lit off fireworks. The adults did the couple challenge (similar to minute-to-win-it) and then Austin and I showed them the hilarious stand up comedy routine on VidAngel. It's called Composed. I think that was my 4th time watching it and still makes me laugh every time.

Tuesday we took family pictures then played basketball at the Church. The ladies that afternoon had a little book club talking about the book Essentialism: The Discipline Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.  We had some really interesting discussions. That night we did a murder mystery dinner (but after dinner when the kids were in bed). That was fun, I've never done one like that before. My character was apparently the future female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger and my boyfriend was this pale sickly fellow (supposed to be Austin) haha. His description was he would be the most handsome boy in school if he wasn't so pale and skinny.

Wednesday was pretty low key all around, we did the Doutube contest that afternoon, and then Cami's best friends Mariah and Tyler came with Mariah's mom and Emily and Bronson came over and then I saw Alice-Anne later that night. It was so fun to visit with everyone so thanks Gardner's and A-A for coming!

Here are pictures to recap the reunion...

Meeting Peter for the first time. He is adorable! Almost a month old here. 

Trying to calm the crying "baby". 

I realize this looks like Bree's baby but it's not, she's just the favorite aunt. :)

Probably my favorite picture of the week. 

And now for some pictures from the fancy camera...
Me and da Bubs.

 We all looked pale that day because of this organic sunscreen we all put on that afternoon haha.

 Murder mystery dinner photo shoot. I'm supposed to be female Arnold Schwarzenegger all over my pale sickly boyfriend. Can you tell? ;)

Ruth's first birthday. Didn't know what to do with the cake but got the hang of it once she tasted it. 
Peter and his cool. 
Sorry I know there's a lot of pictures of us but...oh well, I like them all. :)

Already can't wait for our next Doutre get together! 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge Update

Here is a brief run down of my goals that I've set this year and which ones I've accomplished and which ones I get to tackle on this Fall.

A book that I own that I haven't read yet
-I did end up reading Flipped and really enjoyed it. If you do watch the movie though, it mirrors it almost exactly. There was a little more substance to this YA book than expected.

A book that intimidates me (or one over 700 pages)
-I've read several 500+ books but nothing quite up to the 700 page mark. I'm trying to decide what to read...suggestions? 

A book that I should have read as a child but haven't yet
-This one shouldn't be hard to accomplish, I just need to do it! I do want to listen to Matilda (narrated by Kate Winslet) or listen to Charlotte's Web

A book published this year
-I've actually read more from this section than expected thanks to MMD summer reading guide. Some titles: Beartown, The Alice Network, The Dry, The Lost Book of the Grail, A Bridge Across the Ocean, We Were the Lucky Ones, Undefeated, Dreamland Burning, and The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. 

A book in translation
-I did complete this by reading Beartown but I still plan to read My Brilliant Friend

A book recommended by a friend
-I read Walkable City that was recommended a while ago from my sister-in-law. I'm also in the middle of One Summer: 1927 that was recommended by my brother-in-law. 

A book I've been meaning to read
-I read Peace Like a River, And There Was Light, and The Snow Child. The latter being one of my favorites of the year.

A food memoir
-This is a genre I don't typically read so I want to go out of my way to read one. Still haven't narrowed down which one to read so let me know if you have a favorite.

A Charles Dickens' novel
-Yeah I read Tale of Two Cities and loved it!

A Jane Austen novel
-So I've read all but Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey and I got 2 hours into the audio of NA but didn't finish. I just heard that there's an Emma Thompson narration of it so that might be worth checking out.

A book to reread
-I can't believe this has been harder to get to. I do have some on my list that I'm eager to reread. I just need to set aside he time to do it.

A book that was once banned
-Haven't yet accomplished this one to my knowledge. Hopefully I can tackle this soon. 

Any recommendations?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Random Summer Adventures

Here's my attempt to clump summertime in one post. We did have pockets of trips visiting family but here is the in between. Remember how we thought we were only going to be here till the end of July? Well, nope, still here! It really is all good. Not totally what we were expecting but at the same time I wouldn't want to be anywhere else while we are limboing this time out. Austin can still do work with the IAC and I'm looking for more part-time work along with me working at the farmer's market.

I did end up taking piano lessons from my friend Melanie and it's probably the best decision I made this year. I learned so much and it reinvigorated my desire to keep it up. Since her and husband, Paul, are on their way to Chicago for more schooling, I'm trying to figure out who I should get as a new teacher. We're really going to miss them! They were some of our favorite Moscow people.

On our last day of piano lessons (tear).
 Part of the time working at the farmer's market, our booth was right next to these beauties. 
Walking through the arboretum
We went to Spring Valley Reservoir which is so pretty and peaceful. It's hard to tell but it was lightly sprinkling too. Just lovely. 
I mentioned that I loved this painting a couple of times and so my Mom, two of my sisters, and Austin pitched in to get it for me for my birthday. Isn't it beautiful?! Caitlin Connolly does some incredible work. 
The sunset right before an epic thunderstorm.
Robinson's park. We had this little hike all by ourselves on a Friday night and it was just awesome. 
Made homemade salsa for the first time and it was amazing. I think I've been making it every weeks since. 
Since I started working at the farmer's market, I've felt the pull to support all these vendors like this man's artisan bread. It's out of this world good. 
Summertime would not be complete without readings on my favorite park bench. 
Not-sure-where-to-look-selfie. This was taken right after we got to talk with the youth in our Church about strengthening their faith and testimony.
Even though we are still in Moscow, we moved to another apartment. It helped to get rid of some stuff but I would never get rid of this beauty. This was my Grandma Lewis' that she received from either her parents or grandparents back in 1940 for Christmas. I love these types of family history treasures. The best part is she wrote notes and underlined passages. #gograndma
AHH! The phantom's voice was so beautiful, I could cry. The whole production was amazing. First time seeing it on stage. 
Intermission time. Right before Austin took a little nap (see pic below).

This is me trying to sneak up on Austin at work. You can't tell from this picture but he is bobbing his head up and down getting into that Christian rock music. ;)
Driving through the Columbia River Gorge and practically smelling home because we're getting so close. 

Oh hey, I cut my hair and actually curled it and got a new hat so a Sunday selfie to document it was necessary. 
I'm realizing that Austin and I don't always have great dinner conversations but as soon as we get outside and start walking or shooting hoops, that's when our best and funniest conversations happen. 
Homemade ice cream for dinner because #moving. 

We also did a lot of eating out (okay 4 times this month which is huge for us-we usually only do once maybe).  But anything to survive this moving thing. Unfortunately, the day we were moving our big stuff, our car got hit by a truck and damaged the side so now we can't drive it. Luckily it's beautiful and warm so we can walk everywhere but our poor Corolla. It's been through a lot these last few years. 
On our way to get groceries which I'm so grateful we did it the night before our accident. And glad we're already in a new place instead of trying to figure out living situation whether we were going to stay here or not. It would be so hard without a car. And glad it didn't happen the week before when we needed to get to the airport to fly to Utah for a reunion.

Just a little tidbit about our moving thing just to remind me of some small tender mercies. A few days before we were starting to stress about moving, I was walking outside and just felt this overwhelming peace that things were going to work out in life. Again, this was a few days before we realized that we needed to get things going with finding a new place but still. I'm just grateful I felt that at the time.

There was a lot of unknowns whether we should stay here in Moscow and risk the year lease or move in with his parents for unseeable amount of time, or go live at Carol's and having to move out when they sell it, and then there were a lot of unknowns if we were going to get certain apartments at a specific time we wanted.

I was getting a lot of anxiety and my brain was just blocked of thinking very clearly. I'm a part of the Be Bold Membership through Bold New Mom and they have this "ask Jody" where you can ask her any questions at any time. I explained my situation and this was her response which I really appreciated.

"The timing of the apartment and the job is going to work out perfectly. 
Isn’t that a relief? 
You’re welcome. 
When people invite me to worry about things in the future that I couldn’t possibly predict I politely decline by believing the opposite of what they’re telling me to worry about. And guess what…. it always works. The future ALWAYS works out. Sometimes not in the way I expected but it always does and I keep all the power over creating my future, dealing with challenges and it’s the best way to live. 
Another thought I would be having if I were you is, “It might be hard for most people to get out of a contract but not me. I’m not most people. I will make it happen if necessary.” 
The invitation to worry comes from the right place but it’s still not necessary or useful. I would like to invite you to not worry one bit."

It's interesting that once we signed the contract, then I felt at peace. I think her response also helped and I just needed that encouragement that it's going to work out and we're going to figure this out. We'll make it through. I have to remind myself that I've made it this far in life and it's gone just fine. Somehow it works out so I just need to keep pressing forward. I love summertime but am excited to know that BYU football starts this month which means BYUtv sports will be back on almost every day. I can't wait. :)